Ethel Mannin bigraphy, stories - English writer

Ethel Mannin : biography

6 October 1900 - 5 December 1984

Ethel Edith Mannin (6 October 1900 – 5 December 1984) was a popular British novelist and travel writer. She was born in London into a family with an Irish background.

Her writing career began in copy-writing and journalism. She became a prolific author, and also politically and socially concerned. She supported the Labour Party but became disillusioned in the 1930s. A visit in 1936 to the USSR left her unfavourable to communism. According to R. F. Foster (W. B. Yeats: A Life II p. 512)Roy Foster, W. B. Yeats - A Life, II: The Arch-Poet 1915-1939. Oxford, 2003,

ISBN 0-19-818465-4 (pp. 504, 510–512). 'She was a member of the Independent Labour Party, and her ideology in the 1930s tended to anarcho-syndicalism rather than hardline Communism, but she was emphatically and vociferously left-wing'. She came to support anarchism, and wrote about the Russian-born, American anarchist Emma Goldman, a colleague in the Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista at the time of the Spanish Civil War. 

Mannin was actively involved in anti-imperialist activity on behalf of African nations during the 1930s, and befriended George Padmore who was also involved in these movements.Susan Dabney Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain. Princeton University Press, 2009 ISBN 069114186X, (pp. 93-4).

Mannin listed Bart de Ligt and A. S. Neill as thinkers who influenced her ideas. Twentieth century authors, a biographical dictionary of modern literature, edited by Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft; (Third Edition). New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1950 (p.905-6) She described W. Somerset Maugham and Aldous Huxley as the writers she most admired, called Norman Haire the 'one completely rational person she had ever met' , p. 415 quoting Confessions and Impressions (1930), pp. 191, 194. and stated her "opposition to capital punishment, orthodox education and blood sports".

Mannin's memoir of the 1920s, Confessions and Impressions sold widely and was one of the first Penguin paperbacks. "Writer, Pacifist Mannin Dies". The Montreal Gazette, December 10th, 1984.

Mannin's 1944 book Bread and Roses: A Utopian Survey and Blue-Print has been described by historian Robert Graham as setting forth "an ecological vision in opposition to the prevailing and destructive industrial organization of society".Robert Graham, Anarchism Volume Two: The Anarchist Current (1939-2006). Black Rose Books, 2009 ISBN 1551643103, (p.72-5).

In 1954, Mannin was one of several signatories to a letter protesting against mass executions of Kenyans by the colonial government who had been "charged with offences less than murder"."Hanging in Kenya", Tribune Magazine, 24th December 1954. Other signatories of the letter included Bertrand Russell, Lord Boyd Orr, H. N. Brailsford, Canon Charles E. Raven, Canon John Collins, Benn Levy, Reginald Reynolds, Lord Stansgate, Augustus John, Monica Whateley, and Victor Gollancz.

She married twice: in 1919, a short-lived relationship from which she gained one daughter, and in 1938 to Reginald Reynolds, a Quaker and go-between in India between Mahatma Gandhi and the British authorities. In 1934-5 she was in an intense but problematic intellectual, emotional and physical relationship with W. B. Yeats, who was on the rebound from Margot Ruddock and about to fall for Dorothy Wellesley (a detailed account is in R. F. Foster's life of Yeats, concluding mainly that her emotional engagement was much less than his).Roy Foster, W. B. Yeats - A Life, II: The Arch-Poet 1915-1939. Oxford, 2003, ISBN 0-19-818465-4 (pp. 504, 510–512) She also had a well-publicised affair with Bertrand Russell.



  • Confessions and Impressions (1930)
  • Privileged Spectator (1939)
  • Connemara Journal (1947)
  • Brief Voices (1959)
  • Young in the Twenties: A Chapter of Autobiography (1971)
  • Sunset over Dartmoor: A Final Chapter of Autobiography (1977)
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